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Neuroimage. 2009 Jan 15;44(2):502-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.09.008. Epub 2008 Sep 24.

Altered brain activity during pain processing in fibromyalgia.

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1
Department of Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Münster, Münster, Germany. burgmem@mednet.uni-muenster.de

Abstract

Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is characterized by widespread pain. Studies with functional neuroimaging support the hypothesis of central pain augmentation in FMS. We tested this in our study with a novel paradigm of tonic pain induced by a single stimulus. Tonic pain, in contrast to phasic pain, seems to be a more appropriate experimental approach to study adaptive mechanisms of pain processing in FMS. We hypothesized that brain areas related to the "medial" pain system and the amygdalae will present different activation in patients compared to healthy subjects. An fMRI-block design before, during and after an incision was made in patients with FMS and in healthy controls. Acute pain caused by the incision was measured during the course of the experiment. A 2 factorial model of BOLD-signal changes was designed to explore significant differences of brain activation between both groups during the pain stimulus. Additionally the first Eigenvariates in those areas which show an interaction between both factors were determined over the time course of pain stimulation. Differences of activation in the fronto-cingulate cortex, the supplemental motor areas, and the thalamus were found between both groups with distinct differences in BOLD-signals changes over the time course of pain stimulation, even during anticipation of pain. Our results support the hypothesis that central mechanisms of pain processing in the medial pain system, favourable cognitive/affective factors even during the anticipation of pain, may play an important role for pain processing in patients with FMS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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